Last time, on Active Time Event…
…we found our hero in a desperate struggle with his own reasoning, and was forced into referencing DBZ to expose the absurdity of his situation! As Pashford continues to engage in the ongoing feud known as “Resolutiongate”, he inches closer and closer to certain doom.
Will Pashford triumph victoriously, after resolving the anger involved with Resolutiongate once and for all?
Find out today, on Active Time Event!
I thought I would come to a conclusion in yesterday’s post. By the end of it, however, I had discovered upon casual inspection, that the publishers, developers, and journalists were complicit in the core problems behind Resoultiongate, I had discovered I was at fault too. This was only a momentary revelation, but one that was rather easy to accept with a second thought. The evidence I provided in part one, was more than enough in successfully condemning my own corroboration in allowing Resolutiongate to pass. I mean that in a healthy sense of introspection, and looking at why this is an issue, which is a slight reiteration on what I’ve previously noted upon.
While all of these double takes help to expose this issue as relevant, I realize the core of the matter is far beyond the original scope of the perceived problem. Resolutiongate has happened due to a host of factors, all of which are a direct cause and effect of the games industry battle against itself.
Very quick recap for anyone who has somehow, just now started to read my work starting with this very sentence, Resolutiongate equates to the PS4 and X1 versions of Call of Duty: Ghosts having a fidelity difference, and this made some people very angry. I won’t recap further, as I feel I’ve done so at least 1080 times at this point, but the issue is just, and ever persisting in topicality.
What I will examine now, as I’ve already touched upon in the past as to why this issue matters, is what has allowed this issue to matter. Resolutiongate is the grand culmination of so many lazily accepted notions and reflexive conformity in gaming, that we’re all a little responsible for this. I’m hoping by the end of my speculative investigation, this self awareness will act as a catalyst for positive change.
So what really happened on launch day? Let’s just for a moment speculate, shall we?
Let’s start from the beginning.
I’m really going to try and compartmentalize this, as writing a critique of the entire video game industry is likely too big an issue to tackle in a single article. Yet, I will try to segment my finger wagging to a couple of major players, as to expedite the critical assessment process. Firstly, I will observe that Call of Duty is published by Activision, a company well known for their constant attempts at monetizing their video games. This is achieved through a number of ways, but rushing games and forcing annual releases is definitely one of the biggest.
None of these practices are inherently bad, the goal of business is to make money. The want of more money is where it normally falls apart, and is the moment these practices tend to get out of control. We need not look any further than what Activision did to Guitar Hero, to reaffirm the company doesn’t know how to leave well enough along. I mean, we’re talking about a company who somehow made both music and video games seem annoying simultaneously, all with just a few pushes of a button.
So, in a quest to make money, Activision pushed the boundaries of what’s acceptable to force into the face of consumers the gaming world over. In some way, I think they killed their first gaming guinea pig, Guitar Hero, by pushing it way too far. This early death, however, strengthened the resolve of their second gaming guinea pig, Call of Duty, into the resilient animal it is today.
The parallel of the abusive relation Activision had in pushing Guitar Hero to the point of financial death, to the one they currently have with Call of Duty, is startlingly similar. All I mean to say is, after running such a long marathon, it’s no surprise that relevant parties start to become exhausted. Forcing a developer to pump out so many games in such a short period is destined to start failing, the lust in developing and the thirst of creation drying up with every release. On top of all of this push to keep releasing games, the developer of Call of Duty (Infinity Ward), also suffered from losing their two co-founders before Ghosts went into development, Jason West and Vince Zampella, who had a big hand in why Call of Duty became so popular in the first place.
Their new studio, Respawn Entertainment, is already hard at work on their next project.
You may have heard of it?
So, we have a publisher who does not want to cease annual release of a game that would benefit from more than a year in development, and a developer who is not only getting burned out on the same project, but has lost massive talent in moving forward with their next game. It’s no surprise, in regards to both of these aspects, that Ghosts failed to deliver with stable performance. At first, there was only disappointment that the PS4 version had frame rate issues, in some regard to pushing a higher fidelity with newer hardware. It turns out, the X1 version and even the PC version, are also failing to achieve any sort of ideal performance.
The less than stellar performances of both next gen hardware, and reportedly the PC version as well, helps us in refocusing several issues. Activision, the publisher of Call of Duty, demands annual releases, in a bid to maximize profits. This leads to Infinity Ward, the developer, forcing themselves to get it done by any means necessary. Considering Ghosts is the first next generation Call of Duty title since the release of Call of Duty 2 in 2005 on the 360, the release date is not only important, but non debatable and completely immovable in meeting both the PS4 and Xbox One by their November launches.
With Activision holding the only means (see: money) for Infinity Ward to stay employed, IW was likely faced with a dilemma that has plagued video game developers since the dawn of time, and that’s time itself.
Since the PC version of Ghosts suffers similar issues as the next gen machines, we have to consider the obvious. Much like Activision wants to take any short cuts it can (see: playing it safe with sequels), Infinity Ward had to take shortcuts, and likely didn’t have enough time to make the game what it needed to be. IW probably knew they just didn’t have the resource they needed to optimize the engine and polish the product enough, to work fluidly with the best hardware currently available.
The console versions may have suffered an even worse fate, and fell victim to their timeliness. Infinity Ward may not have even got their hands on developer kits for the X1 and PS4 till well into the development of Ghosts. Having little time with brand new hardware, on top of a game engine that is just good enough with the time they had to develop it, it’s equally likely the present quality of Ghosts was a product of time mismanagement, or what we call rushing a product. With little say in the matter, I’m sure Infinity Ward knew what had happened, and wanted more time to polish the game.
I’m sure they had little say in the matter.
A publisher trying to keep profits up, a developer with no choice but to hit a deadline. This raging river of finance doesn’t stop there, however, as the press became just one more superfluous dam in the unfortunate charade that is the essence of the video game industry. With information so heavily controlled by the companies who make them, exclusive first looks and early access to products act as the creme de la creme of revenues for video game publications. Any big outlet worth it’s ad revenue is going to want to jump at the first and earliest chance in reporting about Call of Duty, a next gen title like Ghosts doubly so.
This starts innocently, but ramps up rather quickly, and with subtle escalation. In this case of humble beginnings of assessing video game product, the further away from development we are, the better. Alpha and Beta builds of the game can be “excused” for shoddy performance, and controlled events like E3, can be a true smoke and mirrors game that can fool everyone involved. In many instances, press will get special invites to see the game…along with some wining and dining complimentary of the game companies producing the experience.
With Ghosts I’m sure it was no different, and many of the earliest looks and biggest exclusives, were no doubt luxurious affairs. I mean, getting to see a video game before anyone else, and possessing a loyal following of readers in such an enjoyably fun career, sounds luxurious enough to me. What I’m referring to of course, is placing the eager and the excited into an environment of padded stimuli. I’ve only read stories, and can only speculate in regards to Ghosts, but from the history of the industry, to the obviousness of how to “play the game”, I’m halted at only possible guesses and educated speculation.
With all of this in mind, even if a journalistic organization wasn’t in outright allegiance to a publisher or developer, staying sober enough around video games, within these preemptively corrupted and intentionally intoxicating environments of these controlled settings would be a difficult matter to say the least. Let’s not forget business relationships and future chances. When you may jeopardize your entire organizations opportunities with one of the biggest gaming companies in the industry, by declining an invitation due to “transparency reasons”, how would you not expect to get fired?
Or at least black listed, never to have a chance at an early scoop again. With a brand like Call of Duty, this is an impossibility, if we are considering the best viewership and maximizing revenue. Integrity don’t pay the bills, after all, so journalists were probably put into a strange position of financial risk with Ghosts, much like Infinity Ward was. When the people, who in many respects are paying your bills, get exuberantly pissed off when you effectively expose their game as sub par, things get messy…and fast.
The journalistic integrity issue is a harder issue to magnify, considering how subjective and contextual it really is. We know this sly sense of loyalty is happening, even if we can’t prove it. I’m more than certain this “unspoken truth” between financial providers and responsible press helped Ghosts reach launch with as little negativity as possible. This is inspite of consumer loyalties, and in betraying the honest truth about a product that can be, at least in a technical sense, objectively bench marked with known technologies.
So with a publisher pushing the boundaries of profits, and a developer with no choice but to help them do so, we have journalists who write about the efforts as “honestly” as they can. In many cases, not even rightly allowed to be honest, if not by a forced concealment of information or the basic worry of losing their job because of an opinion, leading to “optimism” in the games pre-hype previews. Once the game hits, of course, we only have the gamers left to complete this little absurd circle of gaming life, and in Call of Duty’s case to many gamers, the game is an absurd life.
With a title possessing such a massive fan base, and gamers clawing and clambering to prove their only presumed worth through their virtual avatars, very little degradation of the title whether it be from critical reporting or rushed development, will stop them from picking up this game on day one at midnight.
And they will…as they always do.
The sales are always more than meets the eye.
So while core gamers and the engaging thinkers will stop to ponder, discuss, or even research what’s different and what’s valuable with each CoD release, you have this unrelenting force of casuals, fanboys, and wannabe band wagon jumpers who don’t give a shit about financials, time restrictions, transparency or integrity. This group who collectively throws a billion dollars at their local retailers, in order to join the virtual battlefield for a couple dozen kills and a few recycled thrills.
All of the struggles and hardships of the video game development process from start to finish, is all for naught, based on the idea of Call of Duty, one that eclipses quality and reason. We do not think Call of Duty, we simply do Call of Duty. This staple of routine, and this function of social relevancy, all but guarantees the games success, somehow elevating it beyond any real criticism or value. The game still sells, beyond anything else, and any voice of dissent is drowned out by the sounds of finance.
With an impossible amount of money riding on Call of Duty’s release, from backer to maker, through writer to gamer, are we all really surprised that lies were told about the quality difference between the Xbox One and PS4 versions of Ghosts, and are we even more surprised at the fact that neither were the same quality once promised?
The answer is no, no we should not be. The truth of the matter is, this was all too predictable, a subject we didn’t…or perhaps even weren’t able to see, based on the gross amounts of revenue involved. I wrote briefly before, in my initial wrap up of Resolutiongate, a very distilled sentiment on this matter:
“At one point, when someone bitched or complained enough about something in gaming, anyone who wanted to use a straw man argument, or utilize a bullshit bully approach of “quit crying” about it, somehow was backed by a vague sense of the importance video games had. It’s bad enough people aren’t looking at a big enough picture with this CoD debate, and falling folly to the most shallow sense of injustice, when far bigger ones have allowed this small one to even exist.
Once upon a time, when someone was taking a problem in gaming too seriously, someone would chime in with “It’s just a game”.
Yeah, well, “Just a Game” is now making a billion dollars.”
This line of thought stopped me dead in my tracks. This is the key shot, and one that sends me going back and to my left. This line of thought is front and center, totally inconstant with many others own observations. When we consider the amount of finance involved, and apply it to the situation, what happens? What happens then? Pandemonium.The truth of the matter hits us like a barrage of bullets, one that knocks us back with the brunt force of the obvious, as we move back and to the left.
Back and to the left.
I arrive at my final thoughts on the matter, ones that are paired with the feeling of slight futility in the rightful complaining about the basic issues that persist the core issues of Resolutiongate. Gamers, I sympathize, I really do. We were lied to, by a lot of people, and this sense of betrayal is a rightful source of discontent. We should know the truth, we should have access to these facts, and we should never stop shouting about these bullshit injustices, or the sense of consumer dishonesty that they represent.
I however, can’t help but ignore two previous points I had on the matter, that I have already revealed to you.
The first, involved compartmentalizing my ideas on the subject of Resolutiongate, and coming to a swift and conclusive end to all of this madness.
As I warned you at the beginning of the article…
The second, is the only sense of conclusion I was able to find, and one that eclipses the unfortunate reality of Resolutiongate mattering, and that we were lied to as a result.
This conclusion, is that in some small way, all of our participation in the gaming industry, caused Resolutiongate. Just as much as I had stumbled upon the revelation that I was at fault, I think we’re all at fault for Resolutiongate, or at least what caused it to happen. After one last strenuous attempt at getting to the truth of the matter, I don’t think the lies of Resolutiongate were the problem.
I think the industry that allowed it to happen was the real problem.